How I Use It
I teach Science at an independent learning school, where students access most of their curriculum online. ThinkCERCA is a resource that can be used for whole class readings, and individual or small group research projects. With the latter, the leveled readings are helpful as they can be assigned to support lower or higher ability students.The option of hearing the text read is especially beneficial to special education, English Language Learners and visually impaired students. The voice overs are engaging and pleasant to listen to.
The articles are a manageable length and I really like the way ThinkCERCA handles vocabulary. Words are bolded and the definition is a click away. This makes it easy for students to closely read and comprehend material that might otherwise be very challenging. One reading can be assigned to a class and the vocabulary support allows for differentiation. The multiple choice quizzes are adequate checks for understanding, but I would like to see higher level thinking skills incorporated such as open ended questions that require explanations and inferences. The paid version of the program may include more of these opportunities. Although teacher guidance is needed, this site addresses many of the ELA Common Core Standards for Science and Technical Subjects, better than if a teacher simply found articles on his/her own. There are different formats; while most of the resources are articles, there are some infographics and TedTalks which provide students with varied opportunities and practice in accessing information. The selection of articles, especially relating to all fields of science, are limited. I hope that the number and breadth of articles expands in the future.